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How to convert a garage into a music studio / office

Converting a garage into a studio / music room.


In this blog I will explain how in 2022 I converted my garage into a bespoke music studio and teaching room. I have included a list of all the tools you need, all the items you need to buy (and the order numbers). I have not included the prices as they seem to change on a daily basis but you can easily get them from www.travisperkins.co.uk which is where I purchased the whole lot. I have very little DIY experience, but did have some amazing help from my mate Chris and my awesome Dad.


Lets start at the end - this is the finished studio




Why did I choose to convert my garage to a studio ?


Being a musician (guitarist and ukulele player) means that I really need a studio where I can teach/record/shoot youtube videos, write books, write music etc so I recently decided to convert my detached garage into just that - a music studio/ teaching room. I teach about 45 students a week and give regular ukulele concerts, as well as having published 5 ukulele books, so a room to work in is an absolute must. I also do a lot of teaching over Zoom, so its great to have an area to do that as well. A lot of people think about converting their garage into an office or studio, so I thought I would walk through how I did it.


The Garage


My garage is detached and measures 5 M x 5 M, with single skin brick walls and an apex roof.


First off, I decided I was not going to convert the whole garage. I decided it would be handy to still have a storage area for bikes etc, behind the garage door. Also I did not want to alter the external appearance of the garage - to avoid any planning issues etc. You can see in the rough diagram below the area that I converted and the area I left for storage. This also had the advantage that I could leave the front double garage door on, thus saving costs and keeping the external look exactly the same.






The initial Plan


Luckily I have a fantastic mate (cheers Chris !!) who was willing to help me for 3 full days - he also has a lot of great equipment for doing the job, and was very ‘hands on’. My dad also helped me for a few days and he was very useful indeed. I highly recommend getting a mate or relative to help with this.


What tools you will need


So, here is a list of what tools we used :


Circular saw

Drill

Hammer

Plaster Board lift

Screw drivers

Persuader (a mallet !)

Ladder

Bench

Laser Line

Hole saw attachment for drill.


I decided the best way to convert the garage was to build a room within a room. - ie a room within the garage. My studio is quite close to a main road, so it was more important that noise didn't come in, more than sound escaping. As I only teach classical guitar and ukulele, I do not create too much noise, but it did need to be fairly soundproof so as the neighbours could not hear it.


Below is a complete list of the items I purchased. I got all the items from Travis Perkins and I have included the item numbers as well. I have not included the prices as they seem to change on a weekly basis at the moment but if you go to www.travisperkins.co.uk and put in the order number it will give you the current price.


Items required


32 x 47mm x 50 mm x 3.6 M Sawn Treated Timber (for the struts from the roof to the floor, to which I will attach the OSB and plasterboard for the walls). Item number 206920


6 x British Gypsum Gyproc Plasterboard 2400 mm x 1200 mm x 12.5 mm . (plasterboard for the ceiling). Item number 760054


16 x British Gypsum Soundproof Plasterboard 2400 mm x 1200 mm x 15 MM (soundproof plasterboard for the internal walls) Item number 865340


28 x 2400 MM x 1200 MM x 18 MM OSB. (for the external walls). Item number 851636


Knauf Acoustic Roll Ready Cut 50mm 13.50m 2 x 600 16.2m2 Per Pack. (Insulation for between the OSB and plasterboard and on top of the ceiling). Item number 848612


4Trade 3.5 x 38mm Drywall Screw Bugle Head Black Qty 1000. (Screws for fixing plasterboard. Item number 153895


Eande LED Downlights Ceiling Cool White/Warm White/Natural White Adjustable, 5W 450LM, AC220-240V, Cut ?75-85mm, IP44 Ultra Slim LED Recessed Ceiling Lights for Bathroom Kitchen Living Room, 10 Pack. (I got these from Amazon, £40)


Carpet adhesive spray


In addition to the above I purchased about 1000 wood screws of various lengths. I also purchased four packs of carpet tiles that I got second hand from Ebay, along with some underlay. The only other item that I had was a patio door and frame that my dad (good old dad) had in his garage, so that was free !


The Plan


The plan basically was to attach lengths of 47 mm x 50 mm x 3.6 M wood to the internal roof beams, and use these as supports for the stud walls. They also acted as supports for the roof beams, making them stronger to hang plaster board ceiling off. Picture 1 shows what the garage looked like before we started. It also shows Chris but I blurred his face out as he is very handsome and I didn't want people getting jealous.


The first job was to secure the struts going down. For this we used the 47 mm x 50 mm x 3.6M wood and cut it down to the correct length (my ceiling height was about 2.65 M). It was then screwed into the wooden ceiling beams. Behind this, as can be seen in Pic 2, we put the OSB boards. I chose quite thick OSB (18mm) to make it quite soundproof.





As can be seen in pic 3 we did put a few horizontal supports in, but very few. On this back wall we were about 8 inches away from the garage wall. We then used little L shaped brackets to drill the down struts into the concrete floor.



Pic 4 and 5 below shows how the walls progressed.








Once two of the walls were built we then inserted the Patio Door. Luckily this came with a frame, so we just screwed it into the walls we had already built.




We continued to build the 4 walls in exactly the same way and then started to hang the ceiling plasterboard. I used the light plasterboard (still pretty heavy at 22 kgs each) for the ceiling as I did not want to over bear the ceiling joists. I would definitely advise getting a plaster board lifter - I borrowed one from my good mate Alex, but you can hire them for about £75 for a weekend. There was no way we could have lifted the boards without it - even with two of us. Basically you balance the plasterboard on the lift and then wind it up until it is held in position on the ceiling.





As can be seen we used a laser to get the boards in line. We then screwed these into the joists that were already in the garage roof. I left Chris’s face in this one as he looks so handsome.




In the next pic you can see what the ceiling started to look like once we had a few of the plasterboards in place.



The next pic shows the soundproof/insulation in place. I used Knauf roll out acoustic ready cut rolls. I have been told the Rockwool is very good but there was a 6 week wait for that so I went with Knauf. It's horrible to roll out and I recommend using a face mask as it is very ‘dusty’ and gets in your throat easily. It's not massively soundproof but it does give good insulation and a fair amount of soundproofing - especially when combined with the soundproof plasterboard that I used.




The Knauf insulation holds pretty well against the wall on its own, but in places we stapled it if it fell down. I believe that if you flatten it too much it loses some of its soundproofing qualities, but then again that's only something I heard so don't quote me on it . Once we had put the Knauf insulation between all the down struts, we then put the Soundproof plasterboard over the top. This was then screwed into the down struts.




The next job was to drill holes in the ceiling for the lights. I used Eande Led lights and put 9 in. They give a really nice natural light. Chris did the wiring for the lights and we then had an electrician sign it off at the end of the project. You can also see that under each plasterboard in the ceiling, we drilled 70 mm wide planks, just to make the ceiling more secure.






The next picture shows the flooring. Prior to laying the OSB that can be seen, I put down some underlay. On top of this we laid the 18 mm thick OSB. we did not drill the OSB down, we just went for a ‘ram it in’ until it fits method - which worked really well.




Once the floor was done, I used some of the 70 mm wide wooden planks to put on the walls, to hang guitars.




The next job was to put the carpet tiles down. I just used standard tile adhesive spray for this - bear in mind it really does smell strong for about 3 weeks after you use it. I added a few soundproof tiles more for visual looks than actual soundproofing. I then painted the walls and you can see the finished studio below






So, there you have it. What have I learned ? To be honest, it wasn't actually too bad or too hard. I would definitely do it again and say that anyone who is relatively fir and healthy can do it. I’m not great at DIY - but with the help of Chris and my dad, who both are good at DIY it was entirely possible. I would say with the two of us (Me and Chris, or me and my dad when Chris wasn't about), it took about 7 full days to do. The soundproof plasterboards are extremely heavy at 44 kgs each so be prepared for that. With hindsight, I wish I had used OSB for the ceiling (a thinner one than the 18 mm, so as to be lighter). The plasterboard is hard to handle and breaks very easily. The thinner plaster boards just seemed very brittle and fragile.


My tips would be to try and keep things simple. Be willing to change things as you go along. If your room has to be precise and an exact size, maybe get professional help in. However, if you can be flexible and accept a few changes in sizes etc, do it yourself. If you want it to be well soundproofed, definitely go for the heavier (and more expensive) Soundproof plaster boards. If you need more soundproofing, then use Rockwool soundproofing and add another layer of OSB. Soundproofing is complicated stuff, and reading about it can really confuse you. My recommendation is to just bulls it like I did, and then if you need it to be more soundproof, just add more. The room is VERY quiet indeed.


The carpet tiles worked really well and were very easy to lay. It's much easier than laying a normal piece of carpet.


When I first started thinking about the design, my initial idea was to use Tradeline C Tracks to support the down struts. I actually purchased these but they just didn't seem to gain anything, so I didn't bother using them in the end.


It was fun building the studio and I use it every day for teaching, recording and writing. My recommendation - go for it !


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